For decades, cans of hair mousse have sat bottom row on shop shelves collecting dust. Now the '80s favourite is making a comeback, and with a 21st-century formula, it’s challenging surf sprays as the go-to product for creating effortless beachy waves. Not convinced? Team Byrdie couldn’t move backstage at the A/W 19 shows without seeing a hairstylist wielding a can of the stuff. And with new mousse formulas launching every month, we reveal why you need to rethink hair mousse and welcome it into your bathroom. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about hair mousse 2.0.
For starters, here’s a very potted history of the iconic product. Hailing from France (mousse is the French word for foam), L’Oréal brought mousse to the mass market in the early '80s. This new product sparked a frenzy dubbed “mousse mania,” with millions of bottles flying off the shelves. Big hair was big news, and this foam enabled women to achieve sky-high hairstyles that had both volume and hold without the need for tons of hairspray. A versatile product, mousse scrunched into damp hair gave a wet look and beachy wave, too. Unfortunately, it garnered a reputation for being crunchy, one it hasn’t been able to shake until now… “Modern mousse has new enhanced formulas. The hair labs have been able to produce mousse that gives maximum hold without the sticky, crunchy texture,” explains L'Oréal Paris's UK ambassador Sid Hayes.
“Session stylists, including myself, were all slightly excited about using [mousse] at the shows, as they don’t reactivate and go sticky or wet when you use curling tong or hairdryer.” Below is the hair Hayes created backstage at Pringle's A/W 17 show…
Bumble and Bumble's Surf Foam Spray ($31) is a sister product to its iconic Surf Spray. The foam creates a beachy look for your hair without the gritty texture of a salt spray or the crunch of a mousse. Incredibly lightweight, when you work it through damp hair, you can blow-dry for a windswept finish or rough dry with your hands for breezy, beachy waves.
If you have fine hair that tends to get overloaded by salt-rich surf sprays and left looking lank, then a mousse is destined to be your go-to. “Mousse is great used as a base to plump up the hair before styling,” explains Hayes. You see the new generation of mousse doesn’t give that crunch, but it does give hold so it can be used as a blow-dry setting spray to help hold a curl and to add volume. “It’s amazingly versatile,” says Hayes.
And for anyone who struggles to achieve that great natural beach-wave shape, Hayes recommends this styling trick: “One of my favourite techniques at the moment is to apply mousse into damp hair with a touch of oil. Braid the hair in two and leave to dry. Unravel them and you will find non-sticky beachy waves. The combination of mousse and oil helps seal the hair shaft protecting it from the elements, like frizz-inducing humidity.” We like the sound of that!